Question: Amma has been travelling throughout India and countries abroad for many years. During this period, what changes have taken place in Europe and the USA?
Amma: Children, Amma does not distinguish between India, America and Europe. The children here and the children there are all my children. However, there are cultural differences between the people in India and those in the West. The natural environment, financial state and emotional maturity shape the culture of people. One could say that there are differences at this level. Vehicles in India keep to the left, whereas those in the US keep to the right. There are cultural differences like these, too.
However, the nature of love and peace is the same everywhere. Political boundaries cannot change it. The milk of cows whether in India, the US or Europe is white. The nature of fire is the same, whether in the East or the West. Honey is sweet, wherever it may be. The experience of peace is also the same everywhere. Language, creed or caste can never stand in the way of experiencing love and peace. These alone bind Amma to her children, no matter where she goes. Amma only looks at that.
In the light of the experience gained over the years, Amma would say that the spiritual thirst of people in Europe and the US has increased. The people there have all kinds of freedom. Dark skin can be lightened. Light skin can be tanned. A woman can become a man and vice versa. Wrinkles caused by ageing can be smoothed out surgically. One could dye part of one’s hair blue, another part yellow, and yet another, red. In fact, one can dye one’s hair in any colour. A woman can marry another woman, and a man, another man. One can migrate from city to city. One can wear clothes any way one likes. But despite all these liberties, they still suffer and feel disillusioned. From this, they understood that true freedom is not outer but inner freedom; that it is to be discovered within oneself. This inspires them to turn within, transforming them into spiritual enthusiasts.
They are leaving material life and turning towards spirituality. Westerners have started learning about and assimilating Indian culture. In contrast, Indians have become more steeped in materialism and ever more eager to imitate Westerners. We swallow what Westerners have spat out, considering it great, whereas they have rejected materialism, realizing that one can never find contentment through it. We pay scant regard to eternal values, whereas they long to integrate those precious values into their lives.
Westerners try to understand what they are told. The children here (in India) are intelligent but find it difficult to accept something even when they have become aware of its truth. (Amma is not saying that everyone here is like that.) Westerners aren’t like that. Once they have realized the truth of something, they accept it without hesitation. One could say that this attitude is one reason behind their material progress.
India’s real asset is her culture. However, people here are not making any effort to understand it. They don’t delve deep enough. Their faith is confined to the temple and can barely withstand the onslaughts of others’ words. Their faith does not take deep root. Therefore, people here must be prepared to learn about the scientific basis of our culture.
Westerners believe something after they have studied it, and then they stand firm in their faith. But our lifestyle is just the opposite. A child sees his father doing the ritual walk around the shrine. He holds his father’s hand and accompanies him on the circumambulation. When the son grows up, he trains his son to do the same thing. However, they don’t think about why they are doing it or of the benefits of doing so. We have reached a situation in which, to learn about Indian culture, we have to read books that Westerners have written.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi